Investing in Your Health: How Much is it Really Worth?

This week, Melissa Vajas, a Registered Dietitian and member of DHS Group’s Wellbeing team, returns to the blog to answer a few questions and have a conversation about the value of investing in health. The topic is one that Melissa feels strongly about as her goal is to help her clients invest in the small changes that will add up to make a greater overall impact on their health and wellness.

DHS Group: Hi Melissa, thanks for joining us today!

Melissa: Thanks for having me! 

DHS Group: On a broad spectrum, what can we do to invest in our health and why is it important?

Melissa: Making small lifestyle adjustments in your everyday life will result in a large impact on your overall health. A simple lifestyle change could be cutting down on portions at meals or walking on your work breaks. Remember, living a healthy lifestyle is an everyday choice, not an occasional option. In other words, each day is a new opportunity to make healthier decisions.

DHS Group: Drilling down to more specifics, what are two or three things you would say to get started with, in terms of investing in our health?  

Melissa: A few things come to mind…

  1. Ditch the sugary beverages (soda pop, sweet tea, sports drinks). Not only are soda pops loaded with added sugar that can lead to unintentional weight gain and increase the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, but it can be financially costly over time. To put it in context, if you had one soda pop from a vending machine for a year it would cost around $550; that said, you could be using that money to invest in your health, doing something like buying more produce.
  2. Eat more fruits and veggies. Try filling half of your plate fruits and veggies, which are loaded with fiber. Fiber will help you feel full faster, which can aid in weight management.
  3. Get moving! Not only does exercise aid in weight management, but it can also reduce your risk for developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, and certain cancers. Feeling sluggish during the day? Grab those sneakers and start walking to better health. A study published by the University of Georgia found that “feelings of energy increased after exercise compared to sitting quietly in control conditions. The average energy boost after exercise was large enough to meaningfully improve the participant’s mood that day.” Take a 10-minute break and take a stroll outside while listening to your favorite playlist. Use exercise as a mental break from everyday stressors.

DHS Group: What do you think is the hardest deterrent to successfully investing in health and how can we get through it?

Melissa: Motivating yourself is often the toughest part of changing behaviors, so I recommend working to change your mindset. Instead of thinking, “I have to go to the gym,” view it as an opportunity to take care of yourself so you have the energy to tackle your daily to-do lists. Self-care is critical. Often when we are stressed, exercise or healthy eating patterns are pushed to the bottom of our thoughts. Remind yourself that you are important and it’s okay to make the time to improve your health whether it’s squeezing in an exercise class or packing yourself a healthy lunch each day.

DHS Group: What’s the difference in the cost between a healthy lifestyle and an unhealthy one?

Melissa: How much does it cost to have a healthy diet? Harvard published a study that compared the costs of healthy diets to other diet choices. Researchers found that “the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets.”  Investing an additional dollar each day on your health saves you calories and decreases your risk for developing a chronic condition. As the famous saying goes, “Let thy food be thy medicine.”

The cost of a healthy lifestyle isn’t limited to what you spend in a grocery store. Medical costs due to unhealthy lifestyle choices are increasing. Let’s look at type 2 diabetes to compare both sides. A few risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include, family history, being overweight or obese, having high blood pressure and/or a lack of physical activity. Although we cannot control our genetics, we can control our lifestyle. Invest in a healthy lifestyle now so you won’t have the unexpected expense of a chronic medical diagnosis down the line.

DHS Group: Anything else you’d like to add?

Melissa: Don’t overwhelm yourself! Pick one area to work on at a time and reflect on your everyday habits. Are you consuming too much soda pop? Not enough water or produce?  Create a daily goal for yourself like incorporating a piece of fruit (banana or pear) into breakfast each morning. Your daily goal will help you reach your long-term goal of creating a healthy lifestyle. Eventually, your daily goal will turn into a habit and you won’t think twice about it. 

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Ready to start investing in the health of your employees by putting the expertise of dietitians like Melissa to work? Learn about DHS Group’s HealthSpective program in less than two minutes in this quick video and then fill out this form to schedule a chat with one of DHS Group’s Business Development Managers.